World Religions

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About this Class

This class will introduce you to the four most significant world religions outside of Judaism and Christianity: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the matrix of African traditional religions. Dr. Timothy Tennent is the professor of World Religions at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has spent much his life immersed in the cultures of these four religions.

Lectures

1

An introduction to Hinduism, discussion of their sacred texts, and the ten themes of the Upanishads

2

The ten metaphors of Hinduism and how Hinduism is structured overall.

3

A look at the more popular forms of Hinduism

4

Four keys in the Devotional movement

5

A brief comparison of the beliefs and practices of Hinduism and Christianity.

6

The geography and cultural influences in Arabia during the 6th century a.d. had a significant influence on the beginning and development of the religion of Islam. Muhammad's early life was normal. When he was 40, he claimed to have a revelation from the angel Gabriel about worshiping the one "true" God, Allah. He receives further revelations that he records in what has become known as the Quran. Because of his revelation, Muhammad destroyed the family idols and then fled to Medina with a group of his supporters. There were significant military battles in which Muhammad and his followers defended themselves even though they were greatly outnumbered. Some of the Muslim mosques that were built have great religious and historical significance.

7

Muslims believe that the Qur'an is a divine revelation from God given directly to Muhammed beginning in about A.D. 610. The Five Pillars of the Islamic religion are the confession of faith, ritual prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage.

8

Muhammad's successors were call caliphs. From the beginning, there was disagreement about what characteristics would qualify someone to be a caliph. The four "Rightly Guided Caliphs" were in power in successive years from 632 to 661. The two major divisions in Islam are the Shia and Sunni Muslims. One of the major differences between these two movements was over how the successors to Muhammad would be determined. A third movement in Islam is known as Sufi.

9

Along with the Quran, the Hadith is another source of revelation for the Muslim religion. The Hadith addresses many social and economic issues that come up in daily life. The Sunna is a collection of oral tradition about Muhammad, and the Hadith is a collection of narratives about Muhammad that are written. The Sunnis also have a provision for the community coming to a consensus about something new being agreed to as having equal authority with the Quran and Hadith. In the Shia community an Imam can declare something as revelatory truth. These components combine to make up Sharia law, which governs the Muslim community.

10

Dr. Timothy Tennent
Islam is not a religion that at its root, advocates peaceful propagation.

11

It is timely to explore the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and how that has resulted in the rise of Osama bin Laden and recent terrorist activities. An effective response to this movement will require a Christian presence among Muslims around the world.

12

Islam and Christianity have major theological differences including their view of Scripture, the nature of God, who Jesus is and what is required for salvation. There are specific strategies that can help us witness to Muslims genuinely and effectively.

13

Discussion of the events surrounding the emergence of Siddhartha Gautama as the Buddha.

14

Description of how Buddhism became a religion. It expanded into 3 branches, Therevada, Mahayana, and Vajranyana.

15

Discussion of how Mahayana Buddhism has opened the door to different schools of thought or lineages of Buddhism.

16

Discussion of Vajranyana Buddhism, which is also known as Tibetan Buddhism.

17

Discussion of the fundamental similarities in the traditional religions of Africa.

18

A discussion of the Yoruba people and their current religious practices and worldview. The Yoruba are one of the largest religious groups in Africa and their religious system has survived into the modern world.

19

In the Yoruba version of ATR, the spiritual hierarchy is made up of a deity, divinities, and ancestors. Some ancestors are venerated and have power over the lives of living people.

20

Some features from ATR are carried over into the African Indigenous Churches. As Christians adopt a "global" perspective, we will be better able to encourage and learn from African believers.

Sharing Links

Meet the Professors

President

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the programs intended for?

The Foundations program is intended for everyone, regardless of biblical knowledge. The Academy program is intended for those who would like more advanced studies. And the Institute program is intended for those who want to study seminary-level classes.

Do I need to take the classes in a specific order?

In the Foundations and Academy programs, we recommend taking the classes in the order presented, as each subsequent class will build on material from previous classes. In the Institute program, the first 11 classes are foundational. Beginning with Psalms, the classes are on specific books of the Bible or various topics.

Do you offer transfer credit for completing a certificate program?

At this time, we offer certificates only for the classes on the Certificates page. While we do not offer transfer credit for completing a certificate program, you will be better equipped to study the Bible and apply its teachings to your life.